For several years, there has been a great deal of discussion about bullying in schools across our nation. Bullying can affect the emotional and physical well-being of a student causing scars that can last a lifetime. As a child, I was picked on for being a gymnast, being a little slower than the other kids and for the way I dressed. The struggles I went through were very traumatic because of the name calling, derogatory comments and constant teasing. Today, I work with students K-12 to help them cope with bullying and ways to prevent further situations from happening. Here are some suggestions for students who may be dealing the bullying:
1. Establish Bullying Awareness
It is important for students to understand what bullying is and how it manifests itself. It usually happens on a continuous basis and targets certain individuals. Bullying can take on many forms including teasing, physical aggression, spreading rumors and gossip, cyberbullying or social isolation. If students establish awareness about bullying early on, it can help them identify when they or someone they know is bullied before a situation becomes serious.
2. Talk To A Trusted Adult
If students are being bullied in person or online, it is highly recommended that they speak to a trusted adult; whether that is a parent, relative, teacher, principal, coach or a guidance counselor. If they talk about what they are experiencing and feeling, it can provide support and help them to remain calm during these situations. It helps for students to discuss their concerns and fears with someone that can be encouraging, supportive as well as helping the victim to be themselves.
3. Be Yourself
Bullies like to make fun of students for the way they act, their different interests or even for having stellar grades. They like to be mean to students who do not follow social norms. In these situations, it is helpful for students to build on their own self-awareness and know their own strengths. They may even want to keep a running list of what those strengths and accomplishments that they have are. Students, who are confident in themselves, exude and project that confidence onto others. A healthy self-image and self-esteem makes students much less susceptible to bullying.
4. Have A Support System
Students should have a support system when they are coping with bullying.
If students ignore people who say mean things to them, it doesn’t encourage the bully to continue the behavior. Students can help themselves by talking with others; joining extracurricular activities and demonstrating they are taking the high road. It can be beneficial to talk with others who have experienced similar situations by joining an in-person or online support group, community outreach services and even participating in events that help improve self-worth. It is important for students to help others’ who may have been bullied to provide a safe environment.
5. Be Optimistic
When a student is bullied, it is recommended for them to remain optimistic by turning these negative situations into positive ones. During these situations, it is encouraged that they try to remain calm and not engage, so as not to empower the bully and encourage him or her to continue the behavior. Students who exude optimism that a bully cannot penetrate essentially free themselves from bullying. When a bully cannot detect a weakness in someone, it may stop them for targeting that student all together.
Take Pride in Yourself!!
Barron Whited, MS.Ed., earned his Masters of Science degree from Duquesne University in Education in School Counseling and is Certified as a K-12 as a School Counselor. He also holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown in Biology and Communication. Barron has 14 years of experience in elementary, secondary and higher education which includes: The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, ICM School of Business & Medical Careers, Franklin Regional School District and Penn Hills School District. "Barron has been featured on "Pittsburgh Today Live" on KDKA and WTAJ-TV and has had articles published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Tribune Review, New York Daily News, USA Today, CNN, TODAY's Show (NBC) and Education World.